Batman #47 is that point in an action movie where all the streams of the plot begin to come together and, by rapid intercutting of scenes, we watch the various protagonists move through differing obstacles toward the ultimate threat awaiting them, all accompanied by a score with a heavy percussion line and lots of horn-effects. To continue the musical metaphor, we listen in this issue as author Tim Seeley riffs on several variations of hero clashing with villain: Batwing vs Scarecrow, Jason vs Bane, Tim vs Clayface, Barbara vs Joker’s Daughter, and Alfred vs Hush.
While Seeley is doing his one-man jazz act with the words and story, Juan Ferreyra turns in a tour-de-force of art. The entire issue is, in essence, a painting, a gigantic mural told in the thin lines and blue-shifted colors that have appeared often in both Batman Eternal and The New 52: Futures End. The artwork flows naturally with the story, supporting it admirably while doing little to call attention to itself, despite several large panels with multiple insets. This works because, at this stage in the book, the story has to be absolutely paramount. Action is rising, and mysteries crowd forward for revelation. There is no longer time to pause for amusing artistic interludes, either visual or verbal.
One through-line that Seeley maintains in this issue is the development of Julia Pennyworth into a worthy Bat Family warrior in her own right. First in a tense encounter with Selina Kyle, then a violent interaction with Hush, Julia shows herself to be perfectly worthy of inclusion among that august, if no longer particularly tiny, group. Seeley also contributes to the continuing development of Barbara Gordon, perhaps the Bat Family member most in the public eye at the moment, at least if you don’t count Catwoman. He sets her encounter with Joker’s Daughter in the amusement park that served as the site for the New 52 version of The Killing Joke, thus smoothly alluding to the story told this week in Secret Origins #10 and due to be continued in Batgirl. For once, whether through skill or serendipity, the fractured continuity of the Bat Universe comes together for a brief, but very effective, instant.
Continuity is also served by the final scenes of the book, showing a Gotham in flames very similar to what we saw at the beginning of this year-long story. And also, finally, by the appearance in the Bat Cave of a new figure, an old family friend according to Hush, who appears to be giving the orders, and may be the ultimate enemy ready to show his hand at last.
This is the part of the story where action rises and music swells. After the quirky diversion with Ra's al Ghul last issue, a sense of direction and movement is much appreciated. However, that very structure means that the issue cannot stand on it's own. Everything here points forward, and its worth, or lack thereof, will be determined by what comes next.